Airtel Africa is expanding its strategic partnership with Ericsson to enable 4G coverage in Kenya. With Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core products for 4G, Airtel subscribers will experience enhanced quality of voice and data.
The network modernization deal, signed in August 2020, is in line with the Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint Vision 2030 which aims to provide robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitate e-commerce platforms. The modernization deal will drive the simplification and upgrade of the existing network and future-proof it for the anticipated rapid mobile expansion in the country.
With Ericsson Radio System and Packet Core solutions, Airtel Kenya’s network will have 4G coverage, while driving enhanced use cases in both the consumer and the enterprise segments. Ericsson technology shall make the network in Kenya ready for 5G deployment.
Prasanta Das Sarma, CEO at Airtel Kenya says: “Robust and secure communications are an essential component of a digital society in Kenya. We are firmly anchored to the strategy of delivering reliable connections across the country and are looking forward to expanding the high-quality mobile broadband services to our subscribers.”
Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Together with Airtel, we will implement this project that aims to establish an advanced LTE network in Kenya, providing Airtel’s customers an enriched experience – both in the consumer and business segments. Through this partnership, we reaffirm our ambition to set #AfricaInMotion by partnering with Airtel to grow and support an increasingly digitalized society in Kenya.”
Furthermore, Ericsson will deploy its Kathrein Mobile Communication Antenna portfolio which will help provide additional enhancement to the network’s robustness whilst Ericsson’s technologically advanced network management system, Ericsson Network Manager will be utilized to support Airtel in managing the network seamlessly by integrating various network elements on single platform.
We Are Still Holding Consultation On 5G, Says NCC
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said consultation is still ongoing on the fifth generation (5G) technology that would be deployed in the country.
The telecom regulator recently published the Draft Consultation Document on the Deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Technology in Nigeria and yesterday stated that the Commission has not concluded plans for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) network.
A statement signed by director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde stated that the Draft Consultation Document for deployment of the 5G in Nigeria has been produced and uploaded on the Commission’s official website (www.ncc.gov.ng).
He stated the document defines the implementation plan for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria. It provides a background into the benefits of 5G technology and outlines the Commission’s plans and strategies for a successful implementation of 5G in Nigeria.
“It presents guidelines for the relevant areas of the technology and the expectations of the Commission from the operators. This Plan takes into account the expectations of all the stakeholders in the communications industry in Nigeria.
” Nigeria undertook 5G trials in selected locations within the country in collaboration with an operator in 2019. The trial, among others, was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present, he stated.
Adinde further noted that the Commission also has an ongoing engagement with the academia while at the same time funding 5G related research projects, all in a bid to ensure the nation is provided with the best in terms of research findings and policy input, to drive the implementation and deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.
These engagements are targeted at enabling the development of robust policies, which will put Nigeria in the best place to contribute maximally to the digital economy drive of the nation.
According to him, the specific targets of these engagements include the development of policies which have the potential of accelerating the deployment of 5G networks in Nigeria, maximizing the productivity and efficiency benefits of 5G to the nation, creating new opportunities for Nigerian businesses at home and abroad and encouraging in-country investment and ensuring the operations of 5G networks are in conformity with international standards
“For the avoidance of doubt, as with the previous technologies such as 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G, the Commission will not commence 5G deployment without due consultation with all relevant stakeholders, the statement added.
Orange Links Nigeria, Other West African Countries With High-speed Fibre Network
Alioune Ndiaya, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, highlighted the need to develop digital skills and a local ecosystem, with its pan-African fibre network Djoliba designed as a catalyst for growth by increasing connection speeds for mobile customers, content companies and B2B clients.
The operator today (10 November) launched the first high-speed fibre network in West Africa which will connect eight capital cities in the region seamlessly, eliminating interconnection points at borders.
The backbone network connects Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. The region has 330 million inhabitants. A key objective of the new cable network is to make 3G, 4G and 5G services more reliable and bring down tariffs in the region, the company said in an online briefing.
Ndiaya said Djoliba will be a key feature for Africa’s digital transformation. “Local populations will be able to access healthcare or educational services more easily, as well as the applications offered by cloud computing.”
He added development of access to digital technology is a key challenge for Africa. GSMA figures showed there were more than 350 million mobile internet users in Africa at the end of 2019, which is a 20-times increase compared to 15 years ago.
However, he stressed that gaps between countries remain enormous. “Landlocked countries as well as highly unstable countries have extremely limited access to the internet compared with more developed countries. Likewise, in rural areas, where 60 per cent of the population lives, there is a huge difference compared with urban areas”.
“Djoliba is a proof of our commitment to developing our presence in Africa,” a region where it contributes more than a billion euros annually, Ndiaya said.
He noted the West African network is the first step, and the plan is to connect most or all of its operations across Africa. “We remain open to other networks, either those that already exist or new ones”.
Jerome Barre, CEO of Orange Wholesale and International Networks, said it would like to increase its practice of opening up and is looking to add two more countries to the network.
NTITA: NCC, Danbatta Bag Fresh Awards for Broadband Development
L-R: Akin Naphtal, Chief Executive Officer, InstictWave; Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC and Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) during the 2020 Nigeria Tech Innovation and Telecoms Awards held at the NAF Conference Centre in Abuja at the weekend.
The critical role being played by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in advancing the frontiers of broadband development has been recognised at this year’s edition of the Nigeria Tech Innovation and Telecoms Awards (NTITA), 2020.
Regarded as the Oscars of Nigeria’s telecoms industry, the awards, powered by Instinctwave, Africa’s leading business-to-business event organizer in collaboration with the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Abuja at the weekend, saw the Commission and other industry stakeholders, including the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, carting away distinguished awards.
Danbatta was honoured with the “Broadband Oxygenator of the Year” for his remarkable role and commitment to the development of broadband infrastructure to support the country’s digital economy drive while NCC, as a corporate organisation received the “Outstanding Contribution to Driving Greater Broadband Penetration Award of the Year.”
Through the articulation of a Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) for the fiscal years 2015-2020, which symbolises the focused leadership Danbatta brought on board as the chief telecoms regulator in the country, broadband penetration increased from 6 percent in 2015 to 45.43 in September, 2020.
Also, basic active internet subscription grew from 90 million to 143.7 million while active voice subscription increased from 151 million to 205.25 percent during the same period with teledensity also reaching 107.53 percent as at end of September, 2020.
The last five years have seen the number of licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) increasing from two in 2015 to six currently. The InfraCos are to deploy broadband infrastructure, on a wholesale basis in the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.
The Commission is currently reviewing the framework for the licensing of InfraCo to ensure sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the proposed national fibre project towards increasing broadband penetration to 70 percent target, as set in the new national broadband plan by 2025.
The ongoing review of the InfraCo framework is to cater for the delays in take-off, change in exchange rate, supply chain and other challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to InfraCo implementation.
NCC and Danbatta’s recognitions at the NTITA 2020 were also hinged on the increase in the contribution of the telecom sector the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 8.5 percent in 2015 to 14.30 percent as of the second quarter of 2020, translating to N2.272 trillion in financial value.
In the last five years, under Danbatta leadership, telecoms investment grew from around $38 billion to over $70 billion currently with appreciable remittances in spectrum fees and operating surplus by the NCC into the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
Increased e-commerce services, other digital services and more access to financial inclusion were also enabled through increased deployment of broadband infrastructure being promoted by the telecoms regulator through a number of regulatory initiatives.
Speaking on the significance of the NTITA, President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, said: “Our thinking is that if we decide to ignore the contribution that our sector has made to the development of Nigeria by not recognizing the actors that made it possible, what we are saying invariably is that we are unappreciative of their concerted efforts in changing the story of our industry.”
He hoped that the awards would spur the Nigerian government to pay more attention to the sector and that state governments would continue to support the efforts of the industry to transform their various states into digital cities.
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